The Characteristics Of Gothic Literature

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This period saw printing technology improving and developing fast, thus leading to a general upgrading of literacy among the people. It inevitably led to an increase in numbers of publications, diaries, autobiographies, historical accounts, letters and novels. In the last part of this century there surfaced a new type of writing: gothic fiction. This genre posed questions relating to rapid industrialization, its attendant problems and religious fervour. These gothic novels showcased events that were about the supernatural and were laced with violent passions, horror, terror and exaggerations. The typical story was far from the shores of rationalistic England, it was rather somewhere in faraway south. The name of Ann Radcliff is associated with this type of fiction. Italy kept returning as the background of these fictions. But geography is not the only factor. For instance A Sicilian Romance (1790) is the story about two sisters who live in a castle, segregated by their stepmother and father. The castle is on a wild island and dotted with old buildings having secret passages and broken staircases. Her descriptions of the places and of the people are clearly drawn from other contemporary travel tales. Radcliff borrowed largely from famous travel narratives of the voyagers of the 18th century: A Tour Through Sicily and Malta by Patrick Brydone and ‘Travels in the Two Sicilies in the Years 1777, 1778, 1779 and 1780’. Patrick Brydone was ranked first among British voyagers to go
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